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Not sure how to make family life work(29 Posts)
I've nc as this is all quite personal.
DH works full time with long hours and lots of travel. I work 80% in a senior role which is quite stressful. We have two DC ages 2.9 and 1.1.
Basically I'm finding life very stressful at the moment. Because of DH hours, I'm doing all of the childcare during the week including nursery drop off (he will come along if home) rushing home for nursery pick up, meals, bedtime and preparing everything for the next day.
Then I do the nights as DC2 still wakes up to feed 1-2 a night. And on nights that DC1 wakes up she wants me rather than DH.
In DH defence he does try to help as much as he can outside working hours, but he is away from home so much. I'm starting to feel both exhausted as well as a little resentful as it feels like my job/career comes second, which in a way I'm happy with in the sense that I want to spend time with the DC but I want him to do the same!
We get very little time to talk as by the time DH gets home it is late and we are tired. He is in the guest room as there is no point him waking up as well when I look after DC2.
Thank you for reading this far. Not sure what I am asking other than maybe ideas from others that have been in the same position. Do I just need to plough through and stop feeling sorry for myself? I know how lucky we are to have two healthy DC and no financial worries. And maybe having DCs this age is just always going to be tough.
Any ideas welcome though x
I think it will get easier as the dc get older, so maybe to some extent this is just a stage you have to plough through.
On a practical level, can you/DH do anything to make the evening less stressful, like batch cook at the weekends? This would be a good job to give DH so he can be contributing to the daily slog without actually being there.
How much help do you have at home (like a cleaner)? It sounds like you could do with an extra pair of hands after the nursery run - perhaps ideally someone who could pick the kids up and give them their tea, to stop you from having to dash every single day (I would honestly go mad if I had a 'hard stop' on my day like this).
What options exist for DH to cut back on hours and travel? Before you immediately say 'none', he's as entitled as anyone to ask for flexibility (although his employer is as entitled as any to refuse). If he wants to use the 'damage to his career' argument - well, you're doing the same. I have seen a number of highly ambitious couples where the woman has been the only one to make a career sacrifice and its ground that takes years to recover.
Is it worth trying to tackle the night feeds at this stage? I know my ds certainly wasn't going through at 1.1 and considerably later, but the interruption to your sleep on top of everything else must be very draining. Are you at least getting time to recuperate at the weekends?
There's a big part of this that I'm not sure how to advise you about - how do you get men to take (something even approaching) equal responsibility for childcare and all the work that has to happen in the home...? If you get any useful advice on that one I'll be all ears. I assume you've discussed it with him calmly, told him how tired you are and that you need more help, that your job is important too? I think the resentment you're (very understandably) feeling and the fact that he's in the spare room is a bit of a recipe for alienation if something doesn't change.
Other than that you say you have no financial worries so can you pay for more help? Au pair? Nurseries will often let staff collect kids from home and bring them in in the morning or take them home in the evening (private arrangement with staff member)? A cleaner? Or get family to help if they can...?
Best of luck to you, I hope you get some good ideas here!
Can you get an au pair or childminder with flexible hours? Or a nanny instead of 2 nursery places? My dh had to travel often and then i have to juggle to do drop off and pick up at the nursery. the only option is wfh ot take time off. I dont like it but cannot come up with an alternative.
If your husband really truly cannot do anything about his work commitments can you hire help?
Even someone 5-7 to collect the children from nursery and to feed them ?
Even for a few months. Or hire a cleaner or someone to do the ironing?
Your lovely DC are at the age that I would consider very hard. Demanding, sleep wise, attention wise, laundry, feeding, squeezing in wife and husband time.
Don't carry the burden alone. Talk to your husband and if he can't help look at external help.
It does get easier.
Thank you everyone.
We've been round and round on the nanny instead of nursery debate as it would be such a help to have a nanny instead, but it would be a big change for the DC and the older one particularly benefits from nursery.
I think we may need to revisit the au pair discussion. I've said no in the past on the basis that I don't like the thought of someone living with us, but perhaps it's what we need right now. My ideal would be a nanny willing to work eg 4-8pm but those are quite tricky to find!
We do have a cleaner which is wonderful, and although I cook for the DC, for DH and I I tend to do extremely simple stuff so not a big burden.
I guess the my v his career point is the tricky one we really need to tackle. I will talk to him again about what flexibility there is for him to work less but it's pretty much unheard of for men in his organisation I think.
No family nearby sadly.
Yes we do need to tackle the night feeds. I only end up doing them because when DC2 wakes up in the middle of the night I'm too tired to do anything other than feed him...
Thank you very much
We have a similar set up, both work full time but only run 1 car currently so have to coordinate 3 drop offs & pick ups around my work. I'm a rep with a big territory so varies day to day where I need to be, so takes a lot of forward planning.
I would second getting some help in. I've got one in nursery who stays until 6 a couple of days a week, and one in school who goes to after school group until 6 3 days a week.
I then have a cleaner 3 hours week who keeps on top of housework and ironing for us.
I use a slow cooker or meal plan quick meals (eg. Jackets in oven on timer) so there is a meal ready to serve when we walk through the door on days when we're pushed for time.
Mon - Fri it's hectic, but it means we mostly do what we please at weekends bar a bit of laundry. Helps me to feel as though I have some work-life balance.
Have you tried to advertise for that time? Because where I live a lot of students do p/t nanny work and those hours would be great.
Similarly would you consider a nanny with her own child? She would be cheaper and also she could collect her child from school and then focus on your family after that. Your DC might even like having another child around........
Also if you don't want an au pair what about considering a summer au pair? It's that time of year and their placements for summer are coming up....... 12 weeks they last (I think)
I know my sister got a childminder to do 3-6pm - she'd collect my nephew from school and do tea for him (occasionally making something for my sis & BIL too). Sounds like the type of person you'd need.
One thing that stands out in your OP is the comment that your DH 'comes along' to nursery pick-up if he's home. This makes no sense to me - if he's home why isn't he doing the nursery run (meaning you don't have to rush), or prepping meals so you don't have to do anything when you get home with the children? Or have I read that wrongly?
Your question make sense Ellie - but when DH is home in the mornings it is most efficient for us all to get in the car together, dropping off DC on the way to work. And it is helpful that both of us are there at nursery drop off whenever possible, as DC2 is heavy but can't walk yet and DC1 is quite clingy at drop off time so it's a bit of a challenge when I'm on my own!
I think help in the late afternoon is the way to go, but I'm my own worst enemy here a little bit: as soon as I consider it I get upset as I should be, and want to be, spending my non work time just with the DCs without outside help. It's not really rational I know.
It's the same whenever I think that our relationship needs some 121 time and maybe we should get a babysitter every now and then: I then feel guilty for doing that on top of working/nursery.
Aargh what a juggling act!!
Thanks for helping me think it through. I really will have that calm chat with DH about his hours.
Name change fail by the way - apologies for changing user name..
What you need to remember is that you want to spend "quality" time with your kids so she you're wrecked and stressed after work that's not the case. What about a nanny and part time nursery for your older child. The right nanny will help with the socialising either through nanny friends or tots groups.
I do all the school / nursery runs. It will be worse over the summer when I'm against the clock as summer schemes are not open as long as after school. I can't wait until September when I get to pick them both up from the same place at the same time!!!!
It may be unheard of for men in his organisation but it will always be unheard of unless men start doing it. And assuming he is reasonably senior, it needs to come in the senior ranks first. Most of the men I work with who have small kids have made adjustments to accommodate childcare responsibilities - but we work in healthcare IT, which is a bit of a different beast. He needs to think seriously about this - it should not all be down to you, particularly if you don't want it to be.
An au pair feels like it would be overkill unless you ditched nursery and used the au pair fulltime, which I can appreciate you don't really want to do either. Some 'after school hours' help is what you really need, so explore whether you can get that. It might well suit someone well.
Sounds like you're cooking two meals every night? Knock that on the head pronto.
Nanny!!! We're both in senior jobs as well and this is the only way we can cope. Your order one will be entitled to free nursery hours soon so he/ she could still go to nursery, and you would then not need to rush home. It's not quality time when you're tired/ stressed trying to take tired children home from nursery. We come home to a clean and tidy house and the kids are fed and happy. Please do reconsider a nanny.
I felt the same for many years ...even though my career provided more money and gave us better standard of living it was still me that had to arrange everything around kids/home etc....it got better when I got to grips with how i felt about it. I felt i had failed if i didn't do this...i became a martyr to it all and this 'enabled' my dh ( now exdh but not due to above) to play the typical man role ...as in ' oh well he is just a useless man cant be expected to do anything right'.
we had nannies and nursery and it still fell to me a lot of the time to re-arrange or be there or basically make all adjustments to my career.
But maybe in hindsight as I said I felt a bad mother if it wasnt me at dentist appts/school plays etc. My exdh never ever felt guilty about not being at stuff.
I think it is just a very very hard time in your life OP ....little children and careers are difficult to juggle.
Get help in, think about how you feel and react or deal with feelings over being a working mother and then sadly it is sometimes a case of grit teeth and get through.
on subject of au pairs....we had them when dc a bit older for long summer hols and they were great...used aupair world, got aussies ....and they used to cook and clean and basically look after me as much as dc ! I had been reluctant but tbh would still have a 'mummy au pair' now if i could justify it...though i think they are called housekeepers or staff as my teenage daughter refers to it !!!
good luck OP
Agree wholeheartedly with Tribpot about men in senior roles exercising their influence to take a more active role in childcare. If they can't, how will other men in the organisation ever feel they can...? We both have director-type level roles and DP now works 4 dys (I work 3). He loves his day at home with DD, they both get so much out of it. And I'm proud he's made that choice (in a very male dominated industry), and I hope other men may see it and follow suit.
He still leaves the house looking like a complete tip on his days at home, but one step at a time eh...
If you want someone from 4-8 can you not ask around or advertise at a local college which offers childcare/early learning courses?
These sound like perfect hours for a student.
I think help in the late afternoon is the way to go, but I'm my own worst enemy here a little bit: as soon as I consider it I get upset as I should be, and want to be, spending my non work time just with the DCs without outside help.
I truly empathise with this feeling but you must knock it on the head.
Honestly, you can't chase being the perfect, present mum, carry the responsibility for the running of the house and do a demanding full time job without cracking.
You need to get help or you'll burn out.
After an incredibly stressful, physically demanding and overall exhausting time (like the one you describe in your op) I ended up having a massive panic attack one Saturday morning and looking back think I was a bit depressed.
I had to make a choice and my choice was to scale back work to give me some breathing space. Your career sounds like it's not the thing you want to compromise on so you need to compromise on accepting some help with the DCs. Trust me, you might lose a couple of hrs contact with them over the week but you will gain quality time because you'll have more energy and capacity for them when you're with them.
It will get easier but you have to help yourself by having realistic expectations for yourself.
Agree with all the others. You can't do it all.
Definitely either a nanny or au pair or some form of extra help. ,otherwise, it is your career that will suffer. I have been here, so know where you're coming from. You need to be able to either hold your own at work, or take a lesser position.
You can't MAKE your husband want to do things differently, but you can arrange to have more help. It will help you all in the long run.
Hire a nanny and use nursery maybe two mornings a week for your 2 year old if she likes it. Then up it to 15 hours a week when free funding kicks in, nanny can drop off and collect from nursery so no stress for you.
This thread has certainly given me a lot to think about.
I think like theredjellybean says there's a lot of guilt associated with working - not helped by growing up in a very traditional household where my mum stayed at home with us. I really like my work but always think of it as time away from the children, whereas DH doesn't have those type of feelings at all - work is just work.
A brief discussion this afternoon with DH - he thinks he will be more vulnerable to redundancy if he asks for part time of flexible working arrangements.
But I also totally agree that trying to do everything perfectly is a recipe for disaster, and thinking of extra help as increasing the quality time with the children is helpful.
We've missed the boat on school nursery places for DC1 as we declined our place in favour of having both children at their existing nursery - that's when we did a lot of the nanny v nursery thinking and decided on staying where we were.
I will certainly consider extra afternoon help though.
If you are feeling guilty about not spending time with the kids how about having someone to help out from 4pm - 8pm (perfect hours for a college student) who just helps out rather than doing all of it. (Like your dh would do if he was available.)
So they pick up the kids and take them home a bit earlier than you would normally. Kids can then have a bit of a play in their own house. (My ds is always keen to be reunited with his train set on nursery days.) You generally leave work at the same sort of time as you do now (but don't have the "must leave at 5:22pm or will be late - it's 5:17pm and if I had 10 minutes I could get this finished and life tomorrow will be so much easier" problem.)
So get home at same sort of time. Child carer helps with making dinner so you can go and play with kids for a little while. Then provides an extra pair of hands with the bath and bed routine so it is less of a battle and more of a process.
If time she sticks pots in dishwasher whilst you are reading an extra bedtime story.
You'd still have the same time with the kids but life would just be much easier.
he thinks he will be more vulnerable to redundancy if he asks for part time of flexible working arrangements.
Seriously - he's not even going to explore this option? He thinks merely asking about it will put him on some secret hit list? Come on.
My mum stayed at home with us. She was a feminist. Not mutually exclusive! But I also wish I could spend more time with ds - however, fortunately I am unable to feel guilt about it as my DH is too ill to work, so even if this wasn't what I would choose (which it is) I would have to do it anyway.
Mumoftwoyoungkids has just beaten me to it - I was going to say exactly the same. When I went back to work we found a lovely nanny but I didn't want her to do evenings; I wanted to escape from work (as a lawyer) and have that time with DD as I felt so guilty about leaving her all day. 6 months have now passed and our nanny stays until 7 on the days she works. It has made everything infinitely more doable and I'm no longer tearing my hair out. In retrospect, DD probably wasn't getting much out of my rushing home and preparing her dinner myself but not actually playing with her. There was no obvious benefit to her. Now when I get home our nanny puts dinner on for DD whilst I get to read her stories and wander around the garden saying hello to the snails. I am a bit embarrassed about this - it feels a bit ridiculous and entitled to have someone else doing the domestic stuff so that we can play but I consider that it's a cost we need to factor in to our childcare budget in order for me to be happy to leave DD and go back to work. And DD gets a happy, fun mummy rather than snappy, teary mummy.
Op - my exH said the same about his job. It would be career suicide and he would not progress if he asked for any flexibility. He couldn't possibly ever leave before 6.45 pm. Ever. I had a role where I had to work away. It was very stressful. We argued constantly.
Then I left him. And quite quickly he negotiated a 9 day fortnight so he could have every other Friday off to be with the kids. And he leaves work before 5pm two days a week and 3 days every fortnight. And he manages to take time off when they are sick and he has them. All things he couldn't do when we were married.
Oh and he has been promoted.
Not saying the same thing is true of your husband. When needs must however my kids' dad managed to sort a great deal of flexibility in his job.
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